Deck Repair – How to Tell If Your Deck Needs Repair

A deck is a cherished spot for outdoor moments, but structural issues like loose boards or rotting wood threaten its safety. Timely deck repair is a smart way to extend its lifespan and avoid costly repairs in the future.

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If your Deck is covered with a powdery substance, if it’s soft or spongy underfoot or if a screwdriver easily penetrates it, you have wood rot. Dry rot is a fungal growth that eats away at the wood in your Deck, leaving cracks and splinters. This type of rot occurs in poorly ventilated areas, where moisture is trapped in the wood and unable to escape. This often happens around areas where water collects, such as in puddles or if the deck is over a leaking gutter downspout.

While it’s common for decks to experience some rot over time, you can take steps to reduce the chances of this occurring by examining the structure regularly. Check that all boards are securely fastened to the joists and ledger board, and make sure the joist hangers are free of rust or loose. If you notice any damage, a quick repair will keep your deck safe and allow it to last longer.

Another way to protect your deck is by using the right materials. Cedar, many hardwoods and pressure treated woods resist water exposure better than untreated lumber. Additionally, a fungicide can be applied to the wood during construction to help prevent rotting. Alternatively, composite Decking and PVC Decking have protective polymer caps that repel water and prevent the buildup of mold and mildew.

In addition to checking for rot, you should also examine your deck regularly for other issues that can lead to its premature failure. For example, pests like termites, carpenter ants and woodpeckers can destroy your Deck if they’re left untreated. Look for wood flakes on the ground below your Deck or holes in the joists and beams.

While repairing or replacing these components is possible, in some cases, it may be more cost-effective to rebuild your Deck. This is especially true if the deterioration has reached a point where the Deck is no longer structurally sound. A full replacement will allow you to choose new colors, railings and other elements that will enhance the appearance of your Deck. You’ll also be able to make a variety of other changes that can improve the overall functionality and safety of your Deck.

Loose Boards

When your deck boards begin to loosen or gap, it’s a good time to call in a professional. Loose boards are a serious safety issue for people walking on your deck, especially those with bare feet, so it’s important to fix them as soon as possible. In addition, gaps between decking boards allow water, pollen and UV rays to penetrate the wood, which can lead to rot, mold and mildew.

Loose boards can be caused by structural issues, such as a faulty ledger board or a deck that was built incorrectly. A trained professional will inspect your deck’s ledger board to ensure it is firmly fastened to the posts and house framing. They will also verify that there are no joist hangers that are corroded, loose or missing. These components connect the joists to the deck beams, and are crucial for the support of your deck.

If you do discover loose boards, you’ll need to replace them with new ones. It is best to use pressure treated lumber, which has been saturated with preservatives that will be absorbed into the wood and last longer than non-saturated treatments, like stain. When you are replacing a deck board, be sure to measure and mark the location where the new board will go, so that you can cut it properly with your jigsaw. It is important to stagger the joints between rows of boards, so that you don’t have a noticeable line where the new and old board join.

Another reason to call in a professional for deck repair is when you notice signs of pest damage, such as wood flakes or holes on the ground beneath your deck. Insects, such as termites, carpenter ants and woodpeckers, love to destroy the surface of a deck and can cause severe structural problems in no time. A pest specialist should inspect your deck and remove any insects that are found.

In some cases, you may be able to save your damaged deck by resealing it. This process involves cleaning the deck surface and applying a waterproof sealant. It is best to do this at least once every one to three years to protect the wood against extensive rot, sun damage and other pests.

Mold or Algae

Like distant cousins at a weird family reunion, algae and mold look similar: they’re both green, a bit slimy, and show up in places ranging from bathroom tiles to pond surfaces. However, beneath their outer layer lies a very different story: mold and algae are very different organisms that have distinct characteristics and live in different environments.

Mold is a form of fungus that eats organic material and reproduces by sending out spores, which attach themselves to surfaces and grow. Like algae, it thrives in moist, dark conditions and needs a food source to survive and spread. When mold spreads, it can cause structural damage and create a host of health issues in humans and pets.

If a homeowner notices mold or mildew on their deck, it’s important to get the problem addressed before it gets out of control. Mold and mildew can lead to wood rot, which can weaken the structure of your deck and the support beams underneath. In the worst cases, rot can undermine deck posts and joists, causing them to sag or even collapse.

The best way to prevent mold and mildew is to regularly clean your deck and keep it free of debris. It’s also a good idea to restain your deck every few years with a stain that contains waterproofing ingredients.

Regular deck cleanings are a great way to check for loose railing posts and other structural problems. Inspect the entire deck, and pay special attention to areas where a screwdriver can be easily inserted into the wood. If the tip of a screwdriver sinks in more than a quarter inch, it indicates that your deck is suffering from significant rot and that you may need a major renovation.

Moisture is the most common cause of mold, mildew and rot. By removing moss, dirt and other debris and by routinely cleaning your deck, you can extend the life of your wood and keep it looking beautiful. You should also seal the surface of your deck to protect it from moisture and sun damage. Most experts recommend restaining your deck every few years with a product that contains waterproofing ingredients.

Structural Issues

If your deck is sagging or has a soft feel to it, that’s an immediate safety concern. Check for rot, water damage, loose hardware, and insect infestations before deciding whether you need to repair or replace the deck. You’ll need to do a thorough inspection around and under the deck, including looking at beams, ledger boards, stairs, railings, and joist hangers for any signs of deterioration or damage.

Small cracks in wood boards are a normal part of aging but they leave the wood vulnerable to rot and can lead to splinters. If they’re less than six inches wide, you can fill them in with latex wood filler and sand the area to finish it. However, if you notice large cracks in the deck, it’s time to replace the board.

Wood rot and termite infestations are serious issues that need to be addressed immediately before the problem worsens. Proper maintenance, regular inspections, and preventative treatments can help combat rot and termite infestation.

Loose nails and screws are a common issue that can cause structural damage to the deck. Constant use and weather fluctuations can cause the fasteners to loosen, so it’s important to regularly check and tighten them. If your deck has a lot of loose screws or nails, consider replacing them with longer fasteners to keep them in place.

Water damage is one of the most common problems for decks, and it can be hard to detect without a thorough inspection. Moisture can cause swelling, warping, and sagging in the wood, which is why it’s so important to maintain proper drainage channels and seal the deck regularly.

Sagging decks are a serious safety issue, and they usually indicate that there’s a bigger problem underneath the surface. Look for corroded joist hangers and loose screws, as well as any gaps between the deck boards. The more sagging there is in your deck, the more dangerous it will be for people to walk on.